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Call for Papers: Proposed Panel
Third Biennial Conference of the Political Ecology Network (POLLEN <https://pollen2020.wordpress.com/>)
Brighton, UK, 24-26th June 2020
Contested Fertilities: Environment, Race and Queer Reproductive Justice
Key words: Reproductive justice, racism, activism, queer ecologies, de/anticolonialism
Organizers: Katie Dow, Kathryn Medien, Marcin Smietana and Siggie Vertommen, Reproductive Sociology Research Group (ReproSoc <https://www.reprosoc.sociology.cam.ac.uk/>), University of Cambridge
A politics of reproduction and fertility are central to resurgent supremacist discourses. Eco-fascist fears of population ‘replacement’ and so-called ‘White genocide’ are continuing to exercise influence across the world. In Europe and East Asia, anxieties around falling birth rates and ultralow fertility are fueling far right and religious nationalists to promote pronatalist policies and traditional family values for ‘their own people’, while pathologizing the perceived ‘hyperfertility’ of Black and brown migrants and populations in the Global South as both a national and a planetary threat. In Hungary, for instance, the Orban government recently announced new tax incentives and loan benefits for large families as part of his government’s efforts to increase the birth rate while holding a hard line against immigration. In the United States, the Trump administration is curtailing the access and right to abortion services in order to ‘save the unborn life’ while at the same time separating undocumented children from their parents at the Mexican border and locking them up in detention centres. These stratified reproductive health policies resonate with the more quotidian mechanics of austerity, border controls, mass incarceration, poverty, police brutality, and ongoing military occupations, which are all intimately tied to extractive environmental degradation, and have untold anti-fertile effects on the populations that they subjugate.
Environmental injustice has real effects on reproductive justice. This includes people experiencing poor reproductive, neonatal and infant health in areas that are subject to toxic pollution and people deciding not to have (more) children because of environmental degradation, whether they be climate activists fearful for the future in which their children might grow up, or coastal communities experiencing the effects of rising sea levels, including the loss of livelihoods and lands to soil salinization and inundation. As reproductive justice activists have long shown, the conditions of possibility for reproducing children rely on reproductive infrastructures (see Murphy 2013) - unchecked, climate change will only make it increasingly difficult for people to reproduce, because of limited and stratified access to food, resources, housing, employment, healthcare and even, in a world of economic deprivation, political turmoil and division, to the social and emotional support that make reproduction thinkable and possible. At the same time, Indigenous and Black movements for climate justice have long staged their battle ground at the intersections of racial capitalism, colonialism, settler sexualities and climate change. Recognising that extractive ecological destruction, deforestation, land use change, biodiversity loss, and toxic waste undermine the ability to sustain and reproduce life, these movements call on us to recognise these struggles as ones for environmental reproductive justice (see Hoover 2018).
Environmental reproductive justice also involves a queer axis, given that hetero-patriarchal gender and sexuality structures are at the heart of extractivist and racialized capitalism (see Federici 2004; Puar 2007; TallBear 2018). Therefore a queer lens is one of the crucial components in working for environmental reproductive justice. On the one hand, queering is understood as practices of family and kin making that include LGBTQ+ people’s reproductive rights; it may also be an act of reparative justice for LGBTQ+ and other communities who have often been considered unfit or unworthy of reproducing. On the other hand, building on the movement and scholarship of reproductive justice as well as on queer of colour scholarship and activism and queer social critique, queering may mean not being complicit with racialized, extractivist and other hierarchies of exclusion through which LGBTQ+ and indeed all reproduction may unfold. How then can queer and LGBTQ+ analyses and practices align with anti-racist, environmental and multi-species work? How can anti-racist, environmental and multi-species work engage with the hetero-normative contexts in which it is situated? How can work for queer reproductive justice and for anti-racist environmental reproductive justice overlap and benefit each other, human and nonhuman communities and the planet? In short, how can we construct new and re-imagine older reproductive models and practices that will foster environmental reproductive justice, and what processes of redistribution and decolonisation of labour, property, wealth, land, care and love will be required to reach this horizon?
Seizing this fertile ground, this panel aims to bring together activists and scholars who are writing, researching and organising for environmental reproductive justice.
We welcome the submission of paper titles and abstracts, as well as other formats (video, spoken word, short interactive workshops, etc.). Please send the title and description of your intervention to Katie Dow, [log in to unmask] <mailto:[log in to unmask]>, by 22nd October 2019. Please include a short biography with your abstract.
Federici, Silvia, 2004. Caliban and the Witch: Women, the Body and Primitive Accumulation. Autonomedia, New York.
Hoover, Elizabeth. 2018. Environmental reproductive justice: intersections in an American Indian community impacted by environmental contamination, Environmental Sociology, 4:1, 8-21, DOI: 10.1080/23251042.2017.1381898
Murphy, Michelle. 2013. ‘Distributed Reproduction, Chemical Violence, and Latency’. The Scholar & Feminist Online, issue 11:3. http://sfonline.barnard.edu/life-un-ltd-feminism-bioscience-race/distributed-reproduction-chemical-violence-and-latency/ <http://sfonline.barnard.edu/life-un-ltd-feminism-bioscience-race/distributed-reproduction-chemical-violence-and-latency/>
Puar, Jasbir, 2007. Terrorist Assemblages: Homonationalism in Queer Times. Duke University Press, Durham and London.
TallBear, Kim, 2018. Making love and relations beyond settler sex and family. In: Clarke, Adele, Haraway, Donna (Eds.), Making Kin Not Population. Prickly Paradigm Press, Chicago, pp. 145–164.
Dr Katie Dow
Senior Research Associate, Department of Sociology
Deputy Director, Reproductive Sociology Research Group (ReproSoc)
University of Cambridge, 16 Mill Lane, Cambridge CB2 1SB
Making a Good Life: An Ethnography of Nature, Ethics, and Reproduction (Princeton University Press, 2016)
Nature and Ethics Across Geographical, Rhetorical and Human Borders, eds. Katharine Dow and Victoria Boydell (Routledge, 2018)
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